Friday, March 1, 2019

Easy Ways To Save Money + My Tips

I am laughing that I 1. I am writing this and 2. That so many of y’all have been requesting that I do a post of this nature. I would not consider myself to be super financially savvy. There have been a number of times I’ve told my parents that I wish there were classes I could take on how taxes/retirement accounts/investing works since I tend to bombard them with any and all questions I have. That last sentence hopefully clued you into my lack of expertise on this topic. But, since so many of you were curious when it came to how I budget and/or save money I figured the least I could do was put together a post talking about things I’ve done that have helped me to save money. I know that money can be such a taboo topic so just to be clear the only reason I’ve chosen to include some numbers in this post is not to brag (hopefully y’all are very aware of that) but instead to attempt to be realistic and helpful to anyone looking for advice. 

Let’s put all this into context before diving in with my tips…
When I figured out pretty early in my first year teaching that I couldn’t see myself doing it another year I decided that I needed to save money to have in case finding another job quickly wasn’t a reality. While this idea seemed great because I was getting my master’s degree at the same time my already skimpy teacher’s paycheck was cut down more since the school district paid for some of my courses. Fortunately, our paycheck during the second half of the year was a little heftier since we were fully certified, and the district was not paying for our classes that semester. My mindset with that change was to pretend like I was still receiving the same amount per paycheck as I had since I was able to make that work for me then and there shouldn’t have been any reason for me not to be able to do so for the rest of the year too. 

My cost of living in Greenville was very low which was also a huge contributor to being able to save as well as not having any debt which I can’t take any credit for since gratitude for that is all on my parents. If I had had loans to pay off, I wouldn’t be surprised if I tried to stick out teaching longer out of fear that I wouldn’t be able to find security in another job and be left without being able to pay those off. I am completely cognizant about how lucky I am in this regard and make it a point to thank my parents often. I am also incredibly lucky to be able to make some money out of blogging. Most of the time when factoring in how much I make I try to separate blog income from my full-time income with hopes of being able to save a large portion of what I make from this hobby. 

When it came time to talk through logistics of me not teaching after my first year and potentially moving, my parents tried to make moving home sound really fun. While there would certainly have been some perks, I had my eyes set on Birmingham due to the number of jobs in the industry I was interested in available in the city. I remember nervously bringing up the idea of moving before finding a job to my parents, and it wasn’t until I explained to them that I had been saving up a good chunk of my paychecks that they started to consider it as an option. My dad later admitted that when he asked me how much I had saved he was expecting me to maybe say a thousand dollars (which still would have been an undertaking) and through the phone I just about heard his jaw hit the floor when I told him that I had saved over eight-thousand dollars in the span of my first year of teaching. He and my mom then explained to me that with me putting that much prior thought into saving to potentially move the choice wasn’t there’s since I was financially capable of moving to a new city while in the interview process for a few jobs. 

My last paycheck from teaching came at the beginning of July, so I was income-less from July to mid-September and was lucky enough not to feel like I was draining my savings in that span of time which made me feel more comfortable knowing that I could financially do this for some time. While I know moving without a job is risky, I was able to find a roommate (and our really cute house) and was willing to start paying rent earlier knowing that I would be splitting it with someone instead of having to live alone when I did eventually get a job. 

While last year I felt victorious in the saving realm, I know that 2019 will not be the year of saving. I have a number in mind that is my savings goal, but I am realistic in thinking it’s a bit out of reach given the number of big-ticket miscellaneous expenses I have this year with so many friends getting married. Flights, gifts, bridesmaids’ dresses, hair and makeup, bachelorettes, showers, etc. are all expenses that will definitely be worthwhile when it comes to celebrating this new life stage for friends, but they add up especially when multiplied among multiple weddings. Hopefully, by using the tips I share with y’all below I can still be intentional working toward this goal even with these other expenses! 

My best tips…

Take A Treat Yourself Mentality
I know this probably sounds like you’re taking on the opposite mentality you would need to save money, but I’ve found that it is the best way to keep me on track when saving. So often it seems like saving money means you have to be overly restrictive which can be discouraging and not allow you much flexibility. Making money and spending it is not a bad thing as long as you’re intentional about how you’re doing it. Personally, I love changing up my routine once a week in the morning to treat myself to coffee and celebrating that with Starbucks Fridays sounds a lot happier than telling myself I can only get coffee from a coffee shop once a week. Either way, I’m only getting one cup of coffee outside of making it at home during the week but by making it an event I like to think I’m walking away more optimistically than I would by saying I can only order coffee out once a week. 

Think Of Ways To Substitute Spending
It is surprising how many things you can get for free when you start paying attention to the resources around you. For instance, I have been trying to purchase fewer books on Amazon (to save money and room on my bookshelf) which led me to rediscover my love of the library while introducing me to my new favorite app, Libby (audiobooks you can check out using your library card). Even if that's just saving me a $10 book a month that is $120 that I am able to save without depriving myself of the enjoyment of reading something new. 

Another great way to substitute spending without compromising on experience is by inviting friends over instead of going out. While I like to get out of the house on weekends, it can be conducive to everyone's wallet to occasionally stay in for a night and by inviting people over you're still getting to enjoy one another's company. If you still want snacks or drinks have everyone bring their favorite to share with the group that way the cost is split that way as well. 

Do No Spend Months

I was about to start by saying this is my favorite thing to do, but I think I should re-phrase that to say this is one of my favorite things to do in an attempt to save money. I can fall into the trap of online shopping way too often by having this limitation set on myself it makes me less likely to impulse buy items. So in reality maybe this tip should be to do no shopping months, but no spend is a good reminder all around. Good ways to help with not being tempted to purchase cute items you see include unsubscribing from marketing emails (anyone else instantly fall in love with items on those?) and to not save your credit/debit card information on store's websites for an added step when it comes time to check out. 

Meal Prep And Eat In On Week Days
Spontaneous meals out when you’re finishing up a long day can really add up. I find that I am a lot more likely to pick something up on my way home if I think that I am going to have to cook something. To avoid this, I like to do pretty much all of my cooking for the week on Sunday so that I am set for lunches and dinners for the week with minimal effort after work. Usually, this involves me cooking two different meals so that I am able to alternate what I’m eating throughout the week so that I don’t get burned out on something. While I know not everyone can do this, I’ve discovered that it makes my weeknights and mornings so much easier and less expensive. If you’re meal prepping then be sure you head to the grocery store with a list so that you don’t end up buying whatever sounds good and wind up with a bunch of snacks and nothing substantial when you head home. By eating in on weekdays I also don’t feel as bad about going to get dinner and drinks with friends on the weekends since I haven’t been spending money all week. Usually, I’m able not to spend any money during the week and instead make any purchase I may need to prepare for the week ahead over the weekend. 

Pay Attention To Subscriptions
Auto-renewing subscriptions make your life easier in some ways, but when they hit your bank account, and you weren’t expecting it they can feel like a bummer. One subscription that I don’t use anymore and was initially gifted for my blog auto-renewed and I was so bummed that I didn’t realize ahead of time that it would auto-renew so that I could have canceled. You can bet I have it written in my calendar to cancel that subscription before it auto-renews for next year. This experience made me think about whether or not the subscriptions I have are worth the investment. Personally, Spotify, Amazon Prime, Lightroom, and Grammarly are the subscriptions that I know are worthwhile. After figuring that out, I realized that I may not always be getting the best price. It’s worth checking in to see what you could save when paying monthly versus annually and while it may be more of an expense up front, annually is usually the better deal. And for any subscriptions you realize you aren’t using any more, cancel them if you can or write down in your calendar when you should go in to cancel them to avoid being charged for a service you’re not taking advantage of! 

Put Bills On Auto Pay
While we are talking about items being automatically paid let's explore everyone’s least favorite thing, bills. Bills are no fun, but chances are you’d still like wifi, heat, and electricity in your home making them pretty necessary. Instead of taking time to sit down and write a check, pay for postage, and mail them each month go ahead and set up an account and put your bills on auto pay. This will help to save you money by never being charged a late fee since with auto pay you won’t forget to make a payment (I also could be wrong but paying things on time helps your credit score). 

Join A Facebook Re-Sale Group
If you’re preparing to make larger purchases and are hoping to save money still Facebook Marketplace and re-sale groups local to your area are sure to offer good deals. When my roommate and I moved into our house we were continually checking these groups to save on furniture we may need to make our home look complete. I’ve seen such good deals on like-new washers and dryers, sectionals, and outdoor furniture that I am not sure why anyone would want to buy those things brand new. Ask friends in your area if they are a part of any of these groups (sometimes they are invite only so this would be an excellent way to ask them to invite you too) and prepare to be surprised at some of the deals you can get! 

I think that about covers my best money saving tips for now, but I am all ears for other easy ideas you may have when it comes to bumping up your personal savings! 


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